Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know my wife had cardiac ablation surgery yesterday. It’s an outpatient procedure whereby rubber “catheters” are inserted into a vein in your groin and, using an IV medium that allows the quick detection of a misfiring nerve, they apply extreme heat or cold to destroy it, thus, fixing the abnormal heart rhythm or “arrhythmia.”
Prior to that process, my wife’s heart rhythm was a lot like a drunk salsa band.
But the cool thing is, she went into the operating room at 10:30 a.m., she was out of it at noon, she was home by 4:30, and with the exception of the expected soreness, she’s fine. Now she can go back to drinking caffeine which will make my life so much better.
Modern medicine can truly be a miraculous thing.
But as we were sitting in that Presence Mercy admissions office, my wife pointed to a chart of general operating room expenses and exclaimed, “Two-thousand dollars for anesthesia?” To which I responded, “I thought it was gonna be more.”
It was at that point that the admissions person casually remarked, “The entire procedure is actually $144,000.” And that doesn’t include the doctor’s bill. It was at that point that I nearly had to be treated for cardiac arrest. At least I was already in a hospital.
The good news is, as an East Aurora middle school teacher, her excellent insurance means our total out-of-pocket expenses will be a scant two grand. Don’t worry! I’ll make her work it off. The lawn does need a good mowing.
Of course, this led to another brief fascinating debate with my good friend Paul, who asked:
My question is, what should the price be? I mean, when you consider the extraordinary research, technology, advances in methodology, the education required to perform such life-saving procedures, what is the price that is not “outrageous?” I don’t have the answer, but I’m interested in what people think IS the right answer.
To that very question, my wife told me that the operating room, with its myriad of flat panel monitors hooked up to various medical apparatus, looked like something right out of Star Wars.
But whether the operation was worth it wasn’t really the question. I quickly explained to Paul that it wasn’t the astronomical cost, it was the fact that this single simple procedure could bankrupt so many American families in one swift stroke of red ink.
Thirty-five million of the least of our brothers and sisters are uninsured, and another 44 million are underinsured, and those ranks are rising thanks to President Trump doing his damndest to destroy the Affordable Care Act.
What that means is, as we’ve previous covered, between 500,000 and one million Americans resort to bankruptcy every year as a result of overwhelming medical bills. And vast irony is, we’re the only First World country that allows that kind of regular cruelty to occur.
Sure! Blue Cross will knock that cost way down before they pay a single cent, and uninsured folks can negotiate with hospitals to mitigate that massive cost, but I can’t see that bill going any lower than $50,000. And how is someone making just $15 an hour possibly supposed to pay that off?
No one should have to mortgage their life in order to have one!
Heart arrhythmias generally aren’t fatal, but they do affect your quality of life. My wife had to make all kinds of adjustments to deal with hers until it got bad enough that she finally had to deal with it.
But what baffles me is how those good conservative Christian Republicans consistently get poor and middle-class white folks to vote against their own national health care interests. Though that’s changing as indicated by red states rebelling at the thought of giving up Obamacare, it’s not changing nearly fast enough.
Health care isn’t a privilege, it’s a right.
So, I’m gonna keep hammering it home. The Bible is very clear on the whole “least of our brothers and sisters” thing. In fact, I’d say it’s downright unequivocal about it. How can we reconcile our self-proclaimed Christian nation status against a health care system that’s so totally out of whack that it crushes the people who can least afford to be crushed?
Let me answer that that question for you, we can’t!